UAF museum gets fossil of prehistoric marine reptile

January 13, 2012 

Pat Druckenmiller prepares the plesiosaur skull for its plaster jacket. Druckenmiller is one of the world's experts on marine reptiles and is the earth science curator at the University of Alaska Museum in Fairbanks and Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics.


The University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks has taken delivery of a recently discovered fossil skeleton, and it might even represent a newly recognized species. A half-ton of rock and fossilized plesiosaur bones arrived at the museum in late December, and they'll be cleaned and studied by museum earth sciences curator Pat Druckenmiller, who led the Montana dig, reports the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

In fall 2010, an elk hunter found a plesiosaur's remains inside the Charles Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana.

The Museum of the Rockies, where Druckenmiller used to work, offered him the chance to excavate the fossil. He jumped at the opportunity and headed down with his family in July 2011.

A team, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife excavators and the hunter who discovered the specimen, unearthed what Druckenmiller called it a "fantastic skeleton," complete with a full skull and teeth, a good chunk of the neck and most of the torso and limbs.

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